Interview by Kylie Noble, Editor, @noble_kylie.
In an interview with the Gown last April you said you wished to ‘employ less traditional methods of sparking student’s interest’ in the union, have you any hints of what they might be yet?
The big ideas are sort of down mostly, it’s the fine details of getting students involved and engaged and interested that are still to be sorted out for example the main issue is if you have anything like workshops or presentations they are just coming across terribly dryly…you have to stand out in someway, otherwise what reason does anyone have to listen to you? I think you can probably expect (hopefully), more refreshments, more informalities, more fun and there should definitely be more physical presence of officer on the ground. They’ll be off their office chairs and talking to students more often.
Under your leadership the SU was involved in the first ever student bloc in PRIDE. For a number of years there’s been a lack of activism from student officers, possibly contributing to increased apathy. How do you plan to combat this issue?
There’s a question of leadership here and a question of representation plus we have the disadvantage of course of being already a very politically divisive society. However, it’s the feeling of many students and staff in the Student’s Union and the University as well, that the Union could have more political bite. There is some justified hesitation in powering on with personal thoughts and agendas that come from 7 student officers without even consulting students on the ground or student council for a much stronger sense of representation and democratic mandate. However, I think there ought to be more general student activism hopefully. Getting for example more politicians to liaise with us or more political activists to have more presence. Of course hopefully not on the divisive issues.
Your campaign was perceived by some not to be serious enough due to policies such as installing cannons on the roof and abolishing early morning classes. What would you say to such critics?
First and foremost I hope they are not put off union politics entirely. The nature of my campaign was one of protest against some of the election culture at Queen’s which I think is in need of updating, a greater sense of control and fair play. But I’ll reassure you I’m taking the job very seriously and if you see me in a pirate costume it’s only to remind people that one, that the union is fun and also to remind myself not to take myself too seriously.
You’re leading an executive team entirely from the ticket you ran against. Do you foresee any issues in team cohesion?
No, not really. I’m glad to say that there already is diversity of opinion and healthy discussions going on between the officers in terms of what’s the best way to improve student’s lives and what’s relevant to students; what we should we doing, what we shouldn’t be doing- which everyone else on campus should feel to weigh in on.
One of your most popular policies was returning the price of pints in the SU to two pounds. How is this progressing?
Some brief talks have taken place although in the midst of a very intense planning process that the union has been going through for the next 12 months, there hasn’t been a lot of time to concentrate on it. I’m aware that it captured the hearts and minds of many students so I don’t intend to let them down although it will be difficult, but I won’t give up on it.
What advice would you give to fresher’s starting out on their time at Queen’s?
Join at least one club or society, another would be immerse yourself early on in the activities that the union is providing during fresher’s period and you can follow us on the new SU website. Be aware that through your class reps and through your student officers, that any issues on campus-academic or not, can be dealt with.